I am delighted to be someone who previously wore the ECCE label proudly as a Carleton undergraduate student, and am just as excited to be carrying that honor onwards to Simon Fraser University as a master’s student. My background is a little abstract in comparison to the majority of the students that are a part of the ECCE program. I began and finished my undergraduate degree as a biology student, intent on learning as much as I could about how the environment functions, why processes happen as they do, and what we can do to remediate the mistakes we created. I stumbled upon GIS more so as a question than a casual interest. I had no idea what the acronym meant, let alone what GIS was in general, but decided to take a class on a whim from a professor who recommended it as an educational elective. What started out as one class to fill up an elective evolved into 5 or 6 classes by the end of my degree and the revelation of the connection that I could make with biology and GIS together. My eyes started to open to all of the possibilities of the things I could do and paths I could take with the knowledge of biology and the understanding of GIS. I could now confidently see myself capable of actively making change on the environmental and conservation side of things, while utilizing a powerful tool and software program that allowed me to explore concepts in more depth. This is where my transition to Simon Fraser has played a big part. I am master’s student in biology, however the bulk of my research is dependent on my ability to utilize ArcMap to its fullest potential to improve conservation efforts for Chondrichthyans worldwide. I never thought of geography as a field of research that interested me, but the fact that I can combine my love for nature and conservation with the ability to make real and visual change through GIS has provided me with a whole new outlook on how research is performed and analyzed. I am excited to meet all of the SFU ECCE students and to see where this new adventure takes me into the future.
Aside from the academic side of things, you will typically find me outside exploring and creating new adventures through hiking, camping and photography. As much as science is a part of enacting change, so is creating an appreciation and love for nature. Numbers and statistics may mean a lot to scientists but they can be redundant in the eyes of the public. Creating something that stirs emotion can help enact change and allow for a greater appreciation of the world we live in, therefore, making those calculated statistics capable of enacting change for the greater good. I see it as a connected pathway. I can do all the science and calculations in the world, but if the majority of the population doesn’t understand why I am doing it, then my end goal becomes much more complicated and difficult to achieve. If I can allow people to increase their appreciation for nature through my photography, exploring the environment and sharing my research, I am then in a much better position to make a difference because people will understand why I am doing what I am doing.
So, all in all, nature and science are a piece of what make me who I am. I feel in part responsible for the state of our environment and have found that Biology and GIS are the best combination for me to be able to achieve the change that the world requires today.
I am excited to continue on in the ECCE program and to learn a lot in the months or years to come!